Vacation season is in full swing! Here at Killingbeck Insurance, we enjoy taking turns with our vacations to make sure we always have someone here to serve you. Hopefully, you will have a wonderful vacation with no incidents.
While vacations are fun, they tend to leave you at a higher risk for running into a home claim. When a claim happens while you’re gone, it can sometimes spiral out of control to become a huge issue.
Here are some suggestions on how to protect your home and reduce the likelihood of theft.
• If you have a smart thermostat, consider programming it to vacation mode to save energy while you’re gone.
• Take steps to prevent a water claim. Consider installing smart home sensor that can send an alert to your phone if your home has a water issue or leak. Or if you are able to, turn off the water. (Be wary in older homes – ask professional advice before turning off your water to prevent a broken valve.) A water leak that starts while you’re away can cause a huge issue! A small leak can cover a large surface area within a week. We’ve had claims where an unnoticed leak sat for a week while the family was away, severely damaging the floor, cabinets, walls, and even the ceiling on the floor below.
• Perform all lawn care – mow, trim bushes, water your plants. Make sure to take care of anything you care for on a normal basis. High grasses or dying plants alert people that you are not home, and may draw more attention to your house. If going on a long vacation during prime grass growing season, hire someone to mow your lawn and possibly care for your plants.
• Unplug TV's, small appliances and electronics. It’s a good way to prevent a possible fire, save on your electric bill, and potentially save your electronics from an unforeseen power surge.
• Unplug or disengage the motor of your garage door. This keeps someone from finding the programmed frequency and opening your garage door. If you have an extra manual lock for the garage door installed, make sure to engage it before leaving.
• Lock your doors and windows before leaving, and close all curtains and blinds on windows. If you need to leave something open for plants, point the blinds in a way that makes it difficult to see in your home.
• Stop paper and mail deliveries. Stacked items or paper outside your house or mailbox is a sign you are not home.
• Make sure all security devices are working and engaged, and any other security measures are performed before leaving.
• Turn on your smart timers, or purchase some timers to turn your lights on and off automatically while you are gone. If you can set them up to have a variety of times (instead of the same time every day) that’s even better. It makes it appear someone is home, and makes your home less of a target.
• Do not post a message anywhere, or change a voice-mail, to indicate that you are gone from your home for an extended period of time. If you want to post to Facebook, wait until you’re back home and post about your great vacation you already took. For any messages set up in email or on a phone, try saying “I’ll respond back as soon as possible” or “I’m unable to take your call / email.”
• Ask a neighbor you trust to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. This way if the unexpected advertiser leaves items on your door or mailbox, they can remove them. You can also give them your contact information for while you’re gone and a plan of when you’ll arrive home.
Obviously, if you think theft is a large concern, consider setting up a central home security system that is monitored outside of your home. This can alert a central system for fire or break-in, and they can call the police to check on your home for you.
Photo: “P3160006” by Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection’s photostream. Flikr. CC BY 2.0